Tom Moyane, commissioner of the South African Revenue Services (SARS), came in for a beating when ex-SARS officials Johann van Loggerenberg and Adrian Lackay recently launched their new book Rogue: The Inside Story of SARS’s Elite Crime-busting Unit.
The authors believe Moyane risks turning its crime investigation unit into a toothless unit.
“I’m worried about the long-term impact of everything that transpired since Tom Moyane became commissioner,” said a defiant Lackay when asked whether SARS had been “captured”.
Commenting on the current mood and state of SARS, Lackay said: “People are demotivated. A lot of their functions were taken away. There’s been a concerted effort to diminish the criminal investigations capacity.”
Lackay, who served as SARS’s spokesperson for 11 years until his resignation in March 2015, is currently facing a R12 million lawsuit from SARS. (The lawsuit was filed by Moyane.)
While Loggerenberg and Lackay would not come to admit that their former employer had been captured, or that the country had become a “mafia state”, the pair had misgivings of how SARS was being currently run.
Loggerenberg and Lackay were part of a group the Sunday Times nicknamed the “rogue unit” when the story of SARS officials behaving outside the confines of the law to investigate criminals first came out in 2014. The intention to set the record straight and give their side of the story is what motivated the pair to pen Rogue.
Accused of breaking into the president’s home and planting listening devices, as well as running a brothel, among other damaging accusations, the “rogue” story divided the nation, causing tension between SARS, the Hawks and the Sunday Times.
The unit is said to have been created in 2007 by Ivan Pillay, the former SARS deputy commissioner under the watch of Pravin Gordhan, the then commissioner. But Gordhan has refused to answer questions posed to him by the Hawks whereas Pillay and Loggerenberg handed themselves in for questioning.
The Hawks’s motive isn’t justice, Loggerenberg said at the book launch. To him, it’s also an attempt to mislead the public. Loggerenberg took issue with the fact that the allegations had initially been brought to the media not the police. The public should “smell a rat”, Loggerenberg told the audience. “Ask yourself why?” he said. Every government department had an investigative unit of its own, Loggerenberg said. He took issue with SARS being individually targeted.
But it was Johan Kriegler, the retired Constitutional Court judge, who stole the show as he closed the event with an attack on Berning Ntlemeza and the Hawks. “I have seen the questions brought by the Hawks given to the Finance Minister. For the most part, they are rubbish. They are illiterate and they are obviously based on total ignorance of any law – they are exhibitionist,” Kriegler said.
Loggerenberg and Lackay were “resilient” in the face of public persecution and dedicated civil servants whom detractors were perverting law and justice for wrong ends, Kriegler said.
Lungile Sojini (@success_mail) tweeted live from the event: